Day 14 – Beyond Stoke

A busy day today, away by 0950 – that’s early for us and finish by 3 ish. Six locks, which Viv boldly worked- most of em very deep and very heavy. We sped past the Wedgwood factory – for, yes, we are in the Potteries now! And on to Etruria, Stoke and finally Westport Lake. A good resting point for two reasons – adjacent to the Harecastle tunnel for tomorrow and by a lake for Toby!

And some very Midland sounding names . . 

Some of the Trent & Mersey was covered in oil – shimmers of oil came thru the surface as we chugged alone – not nice. It’s said it dissolves the protective bitumen paint on the hull. Some quaint bridges too

The Stoke locks were not very pleasant – low bridges, deep locks …

View from … the boat

More reminders of the kilns for the potteries

Finally, reaching Etruria and the Bone mill, where posh bone china was made from, er, bones – some human bones too apparently!

Etruria junction, where a right turn goes down the Caldon canal

There are some potteries still in action, like this one.  It even had a cafe outside. Nice. See

According to the guide books and our peeking at Google maps – Westport Lake seemed to be a good mooring point. Visitor moorings with rings. Fairly safe and just a 15 minute chug to that Tunnel. We walked around the lake, saw a giant carp being landed and it gave Toby his promised chill time – a swim. We then carried on walking to the portal; no, not some quantum wormhole that connects us with our Mother planet but the southern portal of the Harecastle tunnel 2926 yds long and a 45 minute journey in the dark!!

Our mooring point and opposite, the lake (boat is hidden – good idea!)

Here’s the guy catching his carp

And here’s our Boggle chilling out

It was a mile on to the portal but it was a grand day so on we went

And lots of info about it … it always reminds me of the fairground Ghost Train, as they let you in they the shut the doors!  It’s to draw the fumes out, I think.

We saw this boat emerge as 3 Black Prince hire boats waited their turn, here comes John & Diana on Molly Rose – two New Zealanders, enjoying their UK Summer holiday. One of the best things about this boating lark is meeting other people – especially folk from overseas. We met a boat full of Swedes in Stone and then a Danish couple at Hilmorten – who had hired a boat for 3 months. Shame this country is so paranoid and xenophobic (as seen in this EU referendum) because these guys are fascinating and you can learn so much from them.

Another milestone, we are edging ever so slowly onwards to the end of the Trent & Mersey

Ah, the orchids are flowering

And some local art work … quite like this! And the spikes help.

We ran the engine for around 5 hours which meant we could run the slow cooker and cook our Sainsbury’s Gammon joint! Left in the pot for another hour and it’s ready – yum! Open the Albariño and let the party begin!